A darts player can easily pick up one darts title he would rather not be awarded, that of a "bottler".
The term used in sports psychology to describe "bottling" or a sudden decrease in performance under
stressful conditions, is "choking". But what causes it? One theory is that the player gets so weighed
down with worry and self-doubt about hitting the double or the treble as the finish line approaches,
and as each dart misses the target their performance declines, rapidly. What is the cure for this unwanted
accolade? Researchers have suggested that players (in a range of sports) who suffered from choking were
found to be lacking in "mental toughness".
A variety of top sports' competitors were asked what they
believed was the definition of mental toughness and the top ten answers were as follows:
|1|| Having an unshakeable self-belief in your ability to achieve competition goals |
|2|| Having an unshakeable self belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make
you better than your opponent|
|3|| Having an insatiable desire to succeed|
|4||Bouncing back from performance setbacks as a result of increased determination to succeed|
|5||Thriving on the pressure of competition|
|6 || Accepting that competition anxiety is inevitable and knowing that you can cope with it|
|7|| Not being adversely affected by others' good and bad performances|
|8|| Remaining fully focused in the face of personal life distractions|
|9||Remaining fully focused on the task in the face of competition specific distractions|
|10||Regaining psychological control following unexpected and uncontrollable events
We can probably all recognise players' good points and probably some bad points in some of these statements.
Would anyone dispute that 'The Power' ticks all or most of the boxes above? There are areas where players
could perhaps learn from the list, for example, remaining fully focused in the face of competition specific
distractions. The undeserved booing of 'The King' or 'The Count' arguably had a detrimental effect on their
performances and the 'creaky oche or floorboards' also had an impact in a recent TV events.
The 'accidental' coughing and spluttering from the opponent of a player who is about to throw also springs
to mind, or maybe they genuinely can`t help themselves, they could be `choking`?